Topics for June: The first fruits of summer.... Should we really eat fruit - or is it just sugar?.... Can you have Strawberry Fields forever? ....Should you replace strawberry plants after 3 years?....Raspberries....Cherries....Look after Container & polytunnel fruit...Summer citrus care.... Is locally grown more important than organic?

 Mixed berries - Nature's precious midsummer jewels.

Mixed berries - Nature's precious midsummer jewels.

 

The first fruits of summer!

Above is a bowlful of the early mixed berries and cherries that we're enjoying from the polytunnel right now before the outside ones are ripe.  There are raspberries Joan J and purple Glen Coe, Tayberries, blackberry Reuben, Alpine (or wild) srawberries, also Albion, Mara des Bois, Gento and Old White strawberries and Morello cherries.  I grow a wide variety in the polytunnel so that there is almost always something to pick no matter what the weather is like outside!

Some of the more exotic top fruits like figs, potted dwarf cherries and early peaches are  starting to ripen now too - and it really tastes like high summer now! The ever-reliable perpetual strawberries were the first fruits to produce berries in early May - but we've been eating fruit of all kinds for several weeks now as you can see above. I ate my first peach yesterday - the 28th of June from one of the dwarf potted trees in the polytunnel, and now the others will all gradually follow in succession. The weather has been really hot during the days for the last couple of weeks.  Although some nights last week were really chilly and it was actually only 4 deg C in the tunnels a few nights ago!  Today the weather feels more like October, windy and cold - with the soft fruit outside really being battered! Luckily though - with the protection of the polytunnel all the berry crops in pots will continue to crop well - so they are definitely worth the space they take up!  Keeping fruit well watered and mulched will be most important in any hot weather now - the first thing to go is the fruit if plants are stressed by any dryness at the roots. It promises to be a good year for all top fruits - as due to the good summer and autumn last year the fruiting wood on all tree fruits ripened well and subsequently flowered well this spring. Due also to the good summer last year - there are a lot more bees around too - doing their vital job of pollination.  As I'm constantly saying - growing flowers for bees and other pollinators is a good idea everywhere in the garden, including and especially in the fruit garden. Without bees - we wouldn't have a lot of fruit or nuts such as peaches, apricots, almonds and raspberries, to name just a few. Bees are vital to almost 3/4 of our food supply, so we need to encourage them and look after them by not using pesticides, particularly now that they're in serious trouble, being in decline in many areas. 

 

Should we really eat fruit - or is it just sugar?

Does night follow day?  Nature evolved us to eat fruit as part of our omnivorous mammalian diet!  All mammals eat fruit. Even stone age humans were storing fruit in caves as archaeological evidence proves, but then - they didn't have polytunnels! Some consider growing fruit in polytunnels to be a bit of a luxury and not worth the space it takes up - but I consider it an absolute essential to make the space for at least some! It's not just that it saves a fortune on buying fruit in shops - although it's rarely possible to buy organically grown berries. It's also because it's really well worth extending the outdoor season at both ends by growing some fruit in pots - because it means you can enjoy them fresh for much longer and also freeze more. When the pots have finished fruiting then they can be put ion a sheltered place outside to make way for other crops. I read the science papers regularly and every single day more and more new research is being published which shows how incredibly beneficial all kinds of fruits are for our health! This recent meta analysis of 95 worldwide studies, by Imperial College London, showed that the greatest benefit came from 800g or 10 portions of fruit and veg per day (one portion being defined as 80g) and that vitamin or antioxidant supplements have not been shown to be effective. This is hardly surprising since, despite all our much vaunted scientific knowledge - we still don't know all of the beneficial compounds which are present in fruits and vegetables, or how they may all work together synergistically to produce their legion of health benefits. Nature doesn't give up her secrets easily!  http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/newssummary/news_22-2-2017-16-38-0

 

Some of the anti-sugar people equate eating fruit to be the same as eating sugar - but they clearly know very little about the massive phytochemical and other antioxidant benefits contained in those perfectly delicious packages that Nature provided for all creatures to eat - including us humans!  The one-track-minded 'fruit-forbidders' as I call them - also completely ignore that natural fibre - so essential for keeping our gut microbes healthy - is also neatly packaged with the fruit!  Nature provided what we evolved to eat and knows best what we need to be healthy - not celebrity dieticians or doctors!  I've always believed that eating what Nature provides - just whole, real foods, not processed into juices etc. and not grown using toxic man made chemicals - is the only healthy way for us to eat. Nature balances the packaged fruit with just enough deliciousness to make it palatable for us to eat. Fruit breeders are constantly trying to breed ever-sweeter varieties to suit our more modern sweet-adjusted tastes - but when the sugar content increases, very often the real taste of fruit diminishes. It's those complex flavour aromatics in whole, unprocessed fruits which hold the secret to the amount of healthy phytonutrients and other compounds that they contain. So we don't smother fruit with extra added sugar - it doesn't need it and neither do we! And we always eat whole fruits - not juiced - when many of their health benefits are just thrown away.

 

 

Tunnel grown strawberries Albion, Gento & Christine - a delicious bowlful

 Tunnel grown strawberries Albion, Gento & Christine - which have been cropping since early May

 

Can you have Strawberry Fields forever?
 
Perpetual Strawberry - 'Malling Opal' - 63g!
Perpetual Strawberry - 'Malling Opal' - 63g!

 

Well maybe not forever - but certainly from May until November if you're growing some of the perpetual (or ever-bearing) varieties in a polytunnel! I ordered 'cold stored' runners of a new variety of 'perpetual' strawberry - from Ken Muir's Nursery last month by phone (I like to try at least one new variety of something each year). The beautifully established plug plants (with flower buds!) arrived quickly by post (you can't beat that) and are now already settling into their new home! They will fruit very soon - not too long to wait to try a new variety!  Apropos the 'buying local' principle by the way -which I mention later - I always try all the Irish nurseries for plants first (more in hope than expectation!) Usually they have very little choice of varieties. The - 'couldn't care less' - "You can put your name down, and we might have it if we remember it next autumn" - which I've had from some nurseries is an attitude that doesn't really do it for me! Helpful, efficient, informative and knowledgeable (rare) service is so much better if you want people's return business! So many of the nurseries don't even sell the varieties that are best suited to our climate! 

 
 
I grow several different varieties of perpetual strawberries, as they're far better value for the space they take up than the summer fruiting varieties which take up just the same amount of space but only fruit once. The flavour of the perpetuals is just as good if not better. After the first flush of fruit in June (or earlier in the tunnel),  they'll take a break for a couple of weeks, then continue flowering and fruiting all summer and autumn until the first frosts. In the tunnel they never seem to stop! They're great value for money and really earn their space. All the varieties tend to differ slightly, both in cropping potential and flavour - 'Gento', the old strawberry I mentioned above was bred in France in the '60's and sadly is not available commercially any more but 'Mara des Bois', which was bred from it - softer but still with a fabulous flavour, and it's widely available. 'Albion' is another good fruiter with a great flavour which even freezes well - thawing without falling apart - and also 'Everest' is good too. One I got a couple of years ago - 'Malling Opel' - seemed a bit of a shy fruiter at first, but it's settled down nicely now into regular cropping, has a great flavour and is just enormous! Unusually the berries will hold a long time on the plants once they look ripe - and actually develop an even deeper flavour the longer you can bear to leave them! The same goes for many of the more modern varieties - which tend to be firmer and keep longer as they've been bred for travel-ability and shelf life. They don't all have the best flavour though - so what's the point? As I always say - looks aren't everything! Growing your own allows you to choose the variety and also to pick it at maximum ripeness for the very best flavour.
 
 
Early varieties of summer strawberries should all be cropping well now. It's really important to keep them up off the ground with a good old fashioned mulch of straw, even in dry weather. This keeps them clean and keeps the air circulating around the fruit - helping to prevent grey mould (botrytis) disease. If you do find any fruit which is diseased then pick it off straight away, or it will infect everything else very quickly! 
 

 

Should you replace strawberry plants after 3 years?

 

Some people say you should replace strawberry stocks after three years but personally I think that's unnecessary if your plants are healthy.  It's perfectly alright to continue to propagate from healthy plants. This year my Gento seems even better than ever - thoroughly rejuvenated and enjoying the five star treatment it's now getting in the east tunnel and the last few weeks hot weather! It been producing wave after wave of huge delicious fruits and has been flowering continuously since the beginning of May! The most important thing with strawberries is to only ever propagate from the most productive plants which are fruiting well, with perfect looking, healthy leaves - not twisted or blotched with yellow. Then you can't go wrong. It's also a good idea to move them to fresh ground every 3-4 years.

 

We've been enjoying the first of our strawberries from the tunnels for a month now. We had a taste testing recently and decided that meltingly delicious Gento was still definitely tops for flavour - with Albion coming a close second, Mara des Bois was next, then Malling Opal and the much vaunted old French variety Gariguette after that. Christine came last - good flavour but not sensational - and I want sensational in strawberries! Not only that - but like Gariguette and Elsanta - it's a summer-fruiting only variety. I don't grow Elsanta because I think it's completely tasteless - sadly that's the one sold in many garden centres! Gento is an old variety I've mentioned before - which was bred in France in the early 1960's - and my stock came as runners taken from plants growing in the garden where I grew up, almost 40 years ago. I took some runners from the plants in the kitchen garden there, when my now grown-up children were toddlers - and the plants I have now are the much propagated offspring of those original plants! I would hate to lose them - they're a lovely connection to that magical garden I remember so well - most of it, including 6 acres of wonderful orchards, now sadly lost under a ghastly housing estate - like so many other long lost old gardens! 

 
 
In organic gardening and farming, good husbandry and good housekeeping take the place of the fungicides and pesticides used as a matter of course in conventional chemical growingKeeping one step ahead of any possible pests and diseases is the key.  Keep an eye out for any slugs too - they'll hide under the straw and come out at night for a strawberry supper, if they get the chance! My early variety of choice now is Christine, which I think tastes every bit as good as the old variety Royal Sovereign - the flavour 'yardstick' for the last century or so. 'Christine' is very disease resistant and reliable, and forces very well in pots, so I usually have a good succession from early May onwards, first in the tunnel and then outside (barring accidents!!).  I always take fresh runners of strawberries I want to force every year, grow them on outside in 2litre pots for the rest of the year and then bringing them into the tunnel in early February. As always, I make sure to take runners only from the heaviest cropping and healthiest looking plants. They must be securely covered against marauding blackbirds - who like Goldilocks always like to try a few before they find one that's just right! As a result, they can do a lot of damage very quickly - so l check the netting covering them every day - to make sure there are no chinks where they can sneak in! Do make sure though that the netting you use is large enough to allow bees in easily though, so that they can pollinate all fruits, or you'll have very poor crops. The really big bumble bees can get stuck in very fine netting poor things, and life is tough enough for them right now!  Without bees - we wouldn't have any crops or be around ourselves for long either!
 
 

Cherries

Cherries are my favourite fruit - I think!  Always difficult to choose though - as it's often just what happens to be ripe and tasting fabulous at the time!  But there's nothing like a plump, scrumptious, crisply ripe cherry picked straight from the tree! Denis Healy's fruit and veg stand at Clontarf Farmers Market had some lovely early French ones last week. There was a fabulously tempting array of seasonal produce there - everything you could possibly want. I had to severely limit myself!  It's wonderful to think there is such a huge range of organic produce available now - particularly exotic fruits. Not everyone wants to grow their own, or even can!  Let's face it - mangoes, persimmons and limes are a bit of a challenge in Ireland or the UK aren't they? Believe me - I've tried!!

 

Cherries are something I've been trying various methods of growing for many years without much success. They do grow and I get loads of cherries - but the birds get most of them! If I ever will the lottery I'll have a polytunnel just for cherries! They're really difficult to protect from the birds - the blackbirds in particular enjoy them as much as I do! I thought I'd found the solution a few years ago when a new, more dwarfing root stock came onto the market - called 'Minarette' . I decided I would plant another cherry walk, across the middle of my kitchen garden/potager, which might just stay dwarf enough for me to net all the trees to keep the birds off. Sadly it didn't work out very well, because although root stocks do have a big influence on tree vigour, varieties of scion (the top bit that fruits!) still have a big influence, particularly with cherries and also with some triploid apples. I rather stupidly forgot this when ordering, and went for a spread of fruit over the season - early, mid. and late - rather than noticing that the catalogue suggested that 'Celeste' was the most naturally compact variety! They were right, and for my purposes, it would have looked far neater if I'd planted all of that one variety, then the walk would have looked much more uniform. There's been a good set of fruit on the cherries this year, and plenty of bees around to do the pollination work. They have been working hard! I'd been wondering how I could stop all the fruit being eaten by blackbirds yet again, when a couple of years ago, I had an absolute brainwave!

 

- The very latest thing in fruit protection!
- The very latest thing in fruit protection!
Due to my magpie instincts, I never throw anything away which could possibly be usefully recycled to do another job. This does have its disadvantages though, as I mentioned a few months ago - as we tend to end up with shed loads of 'stuff' - but I can guarantee that whenever I feel enough is enough and put something out into the recycling bin - I will need it for a specific job the very next week'!  Anyway, I remembered a stash of large netting bags which my chap who delivers my winter logs brought some smaller ones in. I don't usually get those - as my wood burning stove takes half a tree at a time - but they were all he had left when I ran out. 
A bag full of promise.
A bag full of promise.

 

 

Pictured here, the result of a morning's work was what looked like a rather questionable art installation in the garden - (as if some mad artist had been let loose - well??!!) It worked like a charm on the branches I was actually able to cover though - and so I will do the same again  this year - and hope for more cherries again!  (I thought I might ask my log guy if he did them in green - which might at least blend a bit more and not look quite so untidy - but then realised that because they're red they tend to camouflage the fruit and confuse the blackbirds - so that when the fruit ripens the birds don't see it as easily - neat eh?) 

 
 
 
After all the crop is cleared, I'll take the bags off and then prune the more vigorous trees at the end of July - that's the best time to prune into hard wood on cherries and plums to avoid the risk of the trees developing silver leaf, or shot hole (bacterial canker) diseases, which stone fruits are particularly prone to in our damp Irish climate.  At other times it's best to 'pinch out' or prune any soft growth with scissors if you want to shape trained trees. My one 'Celeste' tree is noticeably far more compact than all the others, by comparison, and almost 'bottle brush' looking, the leaf nodes being much closer together than on the other trees. It's an early variety which I think would do very well in town gardens here, particularly as it doesn't need another tree for pollination - being self-fertile. It might even do well in a container on the 'Minarette' root stock - certainly worth a try. I got my trees by mail order from Ken Muir's Nursery, in Essex, UK - who win a Gold Medal at Chelsea Flower Show every year. Over the years I've tried many mail order nurseries, but have always found them the most reliable - good strong plants, beautifully packed - and very pleasant, helpful people to deal with. They're not always the cheapest -  but they are most definitely the best in my experience. You're unlikely to get that variety here if you want it, so don't even bother looking - but perhaps some obliging nurseries might order it for next year for you. 
 
 
Raspberries
 
The enormous delicious fruits of autumn raspberry Joan J
The enormous delicious fruits of autumn raspberry Joan J
 
 
The early crop on the 'primocane' types of autumn fruiting raspberries (which crop again on last autumn's fruited canes) is just flowering now outside - and in the fruit tunnel, the pots of 'Joan J' brought in earlier on to bring them forward are already ripening their huge delicious fruits.  As soon as the old canes I left on from last year have finished fruiting, all of them will be cut back down to the base and the plants fed, so that they can concentrate all their energy into the new canes already developing which will fruit this autumn and again, lower down the canes, in early summer next year. I grow the excellent large, tasty varieties 'Brice' (red), 'Allgold' (yellow fruited), and also 'Joan J' - a new variety which Joy Larkcom recommended to me when she was here  a few years ago - she thought it tasted as good as the variety 'Brice', which I already had in the garden. Actually I think it's even better. It's a huge cropper, with big, firm fruits that freeze exceptionally well. I've been growing it for about 6 years now and I love it. Last year I potted some up in 10lt pots and they fruited really well last autumn. We even had a few for Christmas! They're now carrying a huge early crop which is just starting to ripen. The experiment was definitely a great success.
 
 
I love experimenting - that's what makes gardening interesting, and how you find new ways of doing things. The old kitchen gardeners of centuries ago were masters of extending the seasons at either end. I often see 'Heritage' and 'Autumn Bliss' recommended, (rather than the newer and better Brice and Joan J), I tried them both years ago and neither were anything like as good as those I've mentioned.  I'm actually sorry I ever planted them, as they've both become very invasive weeds in the garden!! I keep digging them out wherever I find them and planting them down in the wood for the wildlife but I just can't get rid of them!) I love the good tasting summer varieties too - but like strawberries - if you've only got room for one row of raspberries, then it makes more sense to grow one of the new autumn fruiting ones - they have just as good a flavour and are so much better value for the space they occupy since they produce fruit twice a year if you feed them well and prune them my way.
 
 
When it comes to pests - if you've done your homework properly of developing a good balanced environment for attracting birds and beneficial insects into your garden - then you shouldn't really have much of a problem. The odd greenfly if you can find any is easily dealt with by a sharp spray from the hose, but I've hardly seen one all year so far, as the huge population of birds are absolutely desperate for food for their fledglings and are constantly patrolling the garden searching for insects. Due to a few bad summers for insect breeding - apart from last summer - food supplies may be short - so if you keep feeding the birds, with peanuts (in a feeder) and meal worms - either dried or fresh, it will encourage them to stay in your garden and they'll help you keep potential pests down - rather than going further afield. 
 
 
Diseases, as I've already mentioned, are normally avoided by good cultivation techniques - giving plants optimum growing conditions, good air circulation and good hygiene practices  by that I mean keeping an eye out for any rotting or diseased fruit and disposing of it immediately. Consistent - rather than erratic watering also helps to keep plant stress down, feeding properly and also mulching - to retain moisture, keep roots cool and stop any competition from weed growth.  Fruit like gooseberries can suffer from powdery mildew if they become dry at the roots but growing the newer, more disease resistant varieties like 'Invicta' can help.
 
 
Look after fruit in containers and polytunnel fruit
 
 
If you have any kind of fruit in containers - keep plants consistently and evenly watered or any developing fruit may drop off. The first thing any fruiting plants do if they're stressed is to ditch their fruit! This can often happen with figs about 2-3 weeks after they've gone short of water - and often you don't remember why they're now dropping fruit. Consistantly moist not saturated or dry is the key with them. It's also a good thing to feed them weekly with a good quality, organic, high potash liquid feed. If you don't have your own comfrey/nettle feed, or are not sure of it's consistent quality, then it's worth buying a good balanced proprietary organic brand such as Osmo liquid tomato feed - which I find excellent for everything. Being short of the correct nutrients will also stress the plant and could potentially affect next year's fruit bud development. If you're planting permanent fruit in containers of whatever sort - always make sure there's good drainage and leave enough room at the top for watering and mulching.
 
 
If you're growing grapes keep pinching out the fruiting shoots two leaves beyond the developing bunch on each spur as the shoots grow, and any sub-laterals growing off those shoots to one leaf beyond their base. One good sized bunch per spur is enough for the vine to develop and ripen properly if you want decent sized dessert grapes of seeded varieties - but you can let the seedless ones carry two bunches per spur. Give them a weekly feed now, whether they're in pots or in 
the ground. Tie in any non-fruiting leading shoots, particularly on seedless grapes - you'll be depending on those for next year's crop! 
 
 
Figs confined in pots need feeding at every other watering now as the early 'breba' crop is developing and so are tiny young autumn figlets. Don't let them dry out completely and wilt or they will immediately drop developing fruitlets. The overwintered crop of figs on some varieties is starting to ripen now - I can't wait! I'm almost tempted to say these are my favourites too!....Oh hang it - I just love all fruit! The same goes for peaches, which are developing fast now, the early ones being almost table-tennis ball sized now.

The golden berries/cape gooseberries now ripe on last year's overwintered plants come ready packed by Nature in their own protective little 'designer' paper cases!  They will keep on fruiting all summer from now on in the tunnel - and this year's new plants from seed sown in February are just starting to flower too. They'll be ripening from late July/August onwards.
 
 
Summer citrus care
 
Lemons in pots can stand outside during the summer in a sheltered spot out of the wind. They're flowering at the moment and the bees will help to pollinate them. Don't forget to water them and give them a high nitrogen liquid feed like nettle stew - mixed with rainwater (not tap water) every fortnight. On TV some time ago we were shown some miserably 'chlorotic' looking yellowy-leaved lemon trees - the proud presenter didn't mention that they are lime-hating plants like rhododendrons - perhaps he didn't actually know! 
 
 
All citrus trees are starting to make a lot of new growth now - the small, soft, brownish-red new shoots also carry the beautifully scented flowers. The older leaves may be looking a little yellowish after the winter - particularly if you've used tap water at all for watering them - which they hate!  You can remedy this mineral imbalance by using an organic feed like Maxicrop seaweed and sequestered iron feed, which is widely available. Lemons can be incredibly productive if you look after them well - and they're not complicated to grow - just treat them like rhododendrons or other ericaceous plants. Scale insect is the worst pest - and can be easily dealt with by using an organic soap spray - but NOT when the soft young shoots are developing or you will burn them.  The soap works a treat as it coats the scale insect all over so then it can't breathe through it's skin as it normally would, so it suffocates and dies. Scale insect can badly weaken the plants and make 'honeydew' which encourages 'sooty mould'  to grow - disfiguring and again weakening the trees by blocking photosynthesis From now on I also give mine a weekly feed of Osmo Universal Organic plant food - mixed into rainwater- this is a balanced feed and I find it works very well on lemons or anything else where you want to promote growth or that needs a bit of a boost. It works very fast too. Don't use a high potash chemical tomato food on lemons as they hate them.
 

 

Is locally grown more important than organic? Some say it is!

 

The answer is - that both are important actually! This is a topic hotly debated at the moment. To those who say that eating local is more important than eating organic - my reply is that firstly I want to support organic farming wherever in the world it's being done. And by the way - don't they eat lemons or other fruits we can't grow here in enough quantities to supply our local demands?  In addition - if you eat seasonally as we try to do - not only is it more environmentally sustainable but it's also healthier, as my recent research for a blog article proved.  Organic farming doesn't just protect the environment but also protects bees and other biodiversity and also regenerates precious soil which are becoming increasingly endangered. I know some people are against imported organic produce, but regardless of where in the world it is being produced - the sale of that produce is also supporting local economies, communities, schools, often Fairtrade producers etc. - and also the local environment - wherever that happens to be.

 

Some of the 'local purists' should keep quiet about carbon footprints - if that's why they say local is better - especially if they're flying off on holidays here there and everywhere at least once a year - and if they're also supporting chemical agriculture by buying it's produce! Frankly that's just a tad hypocritical! Agricultural chemical have a massive carbon footprint because they are made using fossil fuels and also destroy soil life - thereby releasing more carbon! Ireland is also a net exporter of agricultural produce. This is often a point rather selfishly overlooked in the 'local' argument!  ("Sauce for the goose" springs to mind!) If I need to buy anything I would always choose Irish organically grown if there is actually a choice. Anyway, if you think about it, the carbon footprint of something organic produced in a warmer country can often be far less than that of something grown with artificial heat and light, much closer to home. 

 

I think that seasonal and organic eating, as far as possible, is a far better thing to aim for - because in that case - you're probably eating local most of the time anyway.  It greatly increases the pleasure you get from food too. Firstly it's properly ripe so it has far more flavour and also a better nutrient profile. Eating seasonally means that you can look forward to and thoroughly appreciate each season as it comes around. I know that it hugely increase the pleasure I get from food. That first peach yesterday was like just nectar! Who wants to eat the same tasteless, plastic-wrapped stuff all year round? Growing some your own organic fruit is so easy - even if you only have a small garden or room for just a pot. There's no reason to buy the exorbitantly expensive, non-organic junk we see for sale in supermarkets or even at local 'pick your own' farms' - which are rarely organic!

I certainly wouldn't want to eat the highly-sprayed local produce currently available in every supermarket just because it's grown locally!  If I buy anything - it's only ever organic - no matter where it comes from. Some conventional, chemically produced, locally grown lettuce for instance may be sprayed 20 times or more with a cocktail of different pesticides, fungicides, weedkillers etc. and the soil they're being grown in already will already contain residues of chemicals from previous crops.  Studies have already shown that these can interact and become up to 1,000 times more toxic as they amplify each others effects!  Frankly - you might as well go and forage for food in a chemical dump!! There's obviously some imported stuff - like lemons for example - that even 'local' purists are going to have to buy unless they're going to live a very spartan life!  If more people supported organic - then it would become cheaper and more widely available. 

 

Enjoy the bountiful harvests of summer - and don't worry about the cream!

The latest scientific thinking on that is that it's actually good for you!  I always thought it was anyway! And of course organic cream is naturally far higher in good Omega 3 fats than non-organic, so it's even healthier! The fat in dairy products is where all the nutrients are. If you're worried about all the calories - then just work them off with all that weeding and mulching!!  Actually though, I think creme fraiche is much nicer than cream anyway - it's even better for you than ordinary cream - as it's also probiotic and if you make it at home more cheaply using a kefir culture. Try making an ice cream with just strawberries, home made creme fraiche or yogurt, a little sugar or organic Stevia drops and a dash of lemon juice - it's heavenly! Yum. That's for when you get fed up with them straight or dipped in melted 99% dark chocolate of course - and that's even healthy - positively medicinal in fact with all the healthy polyphenols in the dark chocolate!!

The really fantastic thing about growing your own organic fruit is that you can eat it properly ripe and still warm from the sun - while it's super-fresh and mouth-wateringly good!

(Please note. I really enjoy sharing my original ideas and 40 years experience of growing and cooking my own organic food with you. It's most satisfying and naturally also very complimentary if others find "inspiration" in my work......But if you do happen to copy any of my material, or repeat it in any way online - I would appreciate it very much if you would please mention that it originally came from me. It's the result of many years of hard work and hard-won experience. Thank you.)

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